State Rep Leading Charge for Natural Gas

Did you see gasoline prices at the pump hit almost $4 recently? Earlier in the year experts projected that we’d see it go as high as $5 this summer – and summer is definitely not over.

Depending on how often you fill your gas tank, driving back and forth to work, the grocery store, daycare – just the basics – can add up quickly. (We budget at least $300 a month for gasoline in our household, with only one car and a small child keeping us at home most evenings.)

Imagine having a fleet of vehicles that have massive tanks to fill (dump trucks, ambulances, school buses, tractor trailers, snowplows). That would add up quickly – and does – for the state of Indiana and public and private businesses of all types here. 

The point is: gas is expensive; diesel is expensive. And, neither are the cleanest fuel options available. But, is there another legitimate option? Possibly.

State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) is leading the charge for compressed natural gas as an alternative. During the recent Clean Energy Summit held at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Frye invited Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition Executive Director Kellie Walsh to present information to a group that included representatives from a number of utility and energy organizations.

Walsh’s presentation highlighted the fact that 80-90% of natural gas is produced domestically. 

Some other interesting facts:

  • Natural gas is not a threat to soil, surface water or groundwater; its nontoxic, noncorrosive and non-carcinogenic
  • It has lower ozone-forming emissions than gasoline
  • Most natural gas is drawn from wells or in conjunction with crude oil production and can come from subsurface porous rock and shale
  • Natural gas powers about 112,000 vehicles in the country and roughly 14.8 million worldwide and has been used as a transportation fuel for over 30 years
  • Compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas are considered alternative fuels under the Energy Policy Act of 1992

Frye told Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick that the state could save around $200 million in fuel costs over a 10-year period by switching vehicles to compressed natural gas. He intends to work on legislation to incentivize the switch, he says.

While the natural gas seems to be there for the taking, there is not much infrastructure in place to support it: filling stations would have to be built; fleets would need to be retrofitted with natural gas engines (which Cummins makes already, by the way).

This just scratches the surface of the positives and negatives of natural gas; most likely it will be a story that we follow in the near future.  

Power Producers: Texas Leads the Way

Who doesn’t love a good list? If you’re in the energy business or just have an interest in which states are leaders in various production categories, check out this information from the U.S. Energy Information Administration:

Coal production (2010)

  1. Wyoming (442,522 thousand short tons)
  2. West Virginia (135,220)
  3. Kentucky (104,690)
  4. Pennsylvania (58,593)
  5. Montana (44,732)

Natural gas marketed production (2010)

  1. Texas (6.7 million cubic feet)
  2. Wyoming (2.3 million)
  3. Louisiana (2.2 million)
  4. Oklahoma (1.8 million)
  5. Colorado (1.5 million)

Crude oil production (2011)

  1. Texas (49,233 thousands of barrels)
  2. Alaska (18,956)
  3. North Dakota (16,581)
  4. California (16,454)
  5. Oklahoma (6,584)

Total net electricity generation (2011)

  1. Texas (33,689 thousands of megawatt hours)
  2. Pennsylvania (19,161)
  3. California (17,167)
  4. Illinois (16,851)
  5. Florida (16,845)

And a few more natural gas numbers courtesy of a State Legislatures article:

  • 90 years: estimated supply of domestic natural gas at current consumption levels
  • 24 trillion: cubic feet of natural gas used annually in the U.S.
  • 26%: amount of the nation’s electricity generated by natural gas in 2011
  • 25,400: number of wells fractured or re-fractured each year to produce natural gas

A (Honda) ‘Civics’ Lesson: Going Natural is In

Our friends at Inside INdiana Business ran this release from Honda, illustrating how the car company is making efforts to move toward the future — and how its Indiana production facility is playing a key role:

Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, LLC (HMIN) today marked the start of mass production of the all-new 2012 Civic Natural Gas as it moves to increase production of the alternative-fuel Civic to support an expanding network of certified Civic Natural Gas dealers across the U.S. Engines for the Civic Natural Gas will continue to be supplied by Honda’s engine plant in Anna, Ohio.

HMIN will ramp-up production of the Civic Natural Gas (formerly the Civic GX) during the 2012 model year to meet anticipated increasing demand for alternative-fuel vehicles. The added production will support Honda’s growing network of U.S. Honda dealers qualified to provide retail sales and service support for the Civic Natural Gas, expanding from 72 Honda dealers in four states to nearly 200 dealers in 36 states, including one new Honda dealer in Indiana.

The 2012 Civic Natural Gas is powered by the cleanest internal combustion engine ever certified by the U.S. EPA and is the only OEM-made natural gas vehicle available for retail purchase in America. It is part of Honda’s growing portfolio of advanced environmental technology vehicles which include three hybrid models, the world’s most advanced fuel cell electric vehicle, the FCX Clarity, and the Fit EV electric vehicle and a Honda plug-in hybrid car, both launching in 2012. The fully redesigned 2012 Civic Natural Gas model goes on-sale October 18, 2011, with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $26,155.

“We’re extremely proud Indiana is the home for this all-new Civic Natural Gas,” said Jun Nishimoto, HMIN President. “As the sole producers of the Civic Natural Gas, our associates in Greensburg are making an important contribution to Honda’s global effort to reduce CO2 emissions and advance the deployment of vehicles that can help the transition away from gasoline to cleaner and more sustainable alternative fuels.”
 

Rogers Staying in Energy Game for Next Five Years

Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers has spent 20-plus years as a CEO in the energy industry (starting with PSI Energy in Plainfield in 1988). And despite his wife’s reaction of "what the heck were you thinking?," he acknowledged today at the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Conference on Energy Management that he’s signed up for five more years.

"I love this industry," he told the conference attendees. And while he has seen many changes in his career, he adds, "The next five years are going to be more transformative for our industry than the last 20 have been."

Rogers shared 10 facts about the current and future energy outlook before answering numerous questions. Among his revelations:

  • By 2050, Duke will have to retire or replace virtually every power plant it is operating today
  • The company is the third largest generator of both coal and nuclear energy. It is currently building new coal and natural gas facilities, has two nuclear proposals being reviewed and is also active in various areas of renewables
  • While there will always be skeptics, he says the majority of scientists have spoken in favor of climate change and that he is a believer

Rogers thinks that the cap and trade legislation that passed the House earlier in the summer "will be improved by the Senate to minimize the cost impact to consumers. The transition, however, is not going to be free, not going to be easy and not going to be quick. It will take decades to make the transition, but we have to get to work on it now. Our mission has changed. We have to modernize and decarbonize our fleet to help our communities become the most energy efficient in the world."

Rogers’ take on three other issues:

  • China: "They’re moving fast. The reality is that China gets it. They’re the number one producer of solar panels; number one producer of wind turbines. They have 14 nuclear plants under construction. That’s why we’re partnering with them. We want to move at China time."
  • Industry employment: "Real jobs are going to be created if we rebuild the nuclear industry in the United States. There are no such things as green jobs; every job is a green job. It’s all about improving productivity and becoming more efficient. Let’s quit trying to draw lines."
  • Smart grid and energy efficiency: "I believe this will turn out to be the greatest enabler, and I can’t even envision today what it will enable." He explains that while Duke and other companies are currently focused on generation of power to the meter, the future includes writing software for specific energy uses. "Our energy efficiency will be driven by technology. The same way you throw the switch today and the lights come on, you will throw the switch and it will optimize your use of energy. The boundaries of our business are being fundamentally redrawn."

Energy by the Numbers

How many trillion Btu of coal did Indiana produce in 2005? If we told you 769.1, would you be impressed — or just confused? How about if we said that was more than all but five other states? A little more impressive.

Indiana’s coal capabilities and reliance on the fossil fuel for energy needs is not a secret. The state now has an opportunity to be a clean coal technology leader as development of a Duke Energy coal gasification plant in Edwardsport moves closer to reality.

The Energy Information Association has released additional data on energy production in 2005. Indiana ranked 24th in natural gas and 23rd in crude oil, far behind national leaders Texas and Louisiana in both categories.

Our state is not a participant in nuclear production, but the coal prowess puts the state 20th in overall production at 836.8 Btu.

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council provides the full story and tables.